INMATES & FAMILY

F.a.m.i.l.y. . (Forget About Me I’ll Love You). By: Melvin Monroe

I was watching Ellen yesterday (9/14/18) for only a moment yet, I was struck by a poignant acronym. I don’t know if “struck” is the correct expression because, in a strange way, I feel that it was placed in my path. I’ll explain.

I have never lost anything that was my own. Over the years I’ve experienced incredible loss and I took them ALL personally, as though the losses were my personal possessions. Be it the loss of my mom, my father, my Aunti who was like a mother to me, my uncles, friends, a woman whom I loved throughout my childhood up to this day and I came to love unlike any love known to me to date, my family unit… even my physical freedom.

It wasn’t until just recently that I have come to recognise that none of them were mine(s), alone. They belonged to the world. Cliche, I know. However, in reality, the concept of the “family unit” in the Western part of the continent, is of European construct. I won’t say whether or not it was divisive in its intent, or if it was simply the result, but the effects are evident. Family, for most, is recognized by the kinship of ones blood rather than recognition of the bond born out of the love one has for another; with the exception of marriage/adoption, in which case it is by declaration of the laws of the state(s) that one is deemed “Family”.

Now, there are pros and cons that go along with that. None the less, it remains that Eastern culture, African in particular, regularly took in those that would be recognized as family, with the same benefits/privileges as [direct] blood “relatives”. This is [also] true for the indigenous American families recognised as “Native Americans”, of whoms
customs, culture or traditions, I am no authority. Sill, it could be argued, that for both groups of people, as tribal politics began to take root, it served to undermine the bonds that developed organically fostering an indistinguishable family relationship, replacing them with a false interpretation of family; lessening the resistance of the people when others came along suggesting, or enforcing, families to be defined by blood kinship.

What better place to segue to how I felt this matter of family, and the poignant acronym (Forget About Me I’ll Love You) was placed before me, is there?

First, recognition for the acronym is to be given to a new principal of a High School in the city/state of, I believe, Chicago, IL. WEST something or other is the name of the school. This brother to the people, if I understood correctly, spearheaded a movement to get washing machines and driers to the school because he learned many of the children didn’t attend classes because they had no clean clothes. Efforting to remedy that obstacle, he ascertained for the students the above, along with free washer/dryer supplies.

If that weren’t enuff, after conversations shared with local law enforcement, and a request by them for his assistance, they coordinated a plan to get kids off of the streets during the hours that children are most at risk, be it due to acts of crime or victims of it, which are between 6pm and 11pm. These numbers hold true for California, where the idea of using the school as a sanctuary from the streets during those hours developed. I think they titled it, “Lights always on” (?). I could totally be wrong about the name. The point being, this is an effort to bridge the gap that separates us… them, as it were. In that vein comes along the student [Note: the principal said they haven’t lost a single child since instituting these programs] that was interviewed saying, in effect, that he was told “family” is : “Forget About Me I’ll Love You”.

That resonated with me because love, true love, is selfless. It’s empathetic. So, you put YOU (or in the acronym’s case, “me”) aside for the one you love, thereby removing the obstruction to the utopian bond of “family” born out of it… love, that is.

I was just engaged in a conversation where the god wrote that, “Blood is thicker than water; but love is thicker than blood”. I heard that. I really heard it. Yet, as he spoke, I also was hearing: ” Blood is thicker than water… but love bonds”. That is what I meant when I wondered if this acronym regarding family was placed before me.

You see, I had just extended an invite to someone recognizing that their family would be mines by extension of this invitation. [And] what is family if it isn’t a bond? [And] what is love if it isn’t binding? [And] how would one come to know love, learn love, intimately, devoid of family’s introduction? Because it is out of family that love’s roots derive. It is then cultivated by the binding of the spirit to [the] self, first, then projected on to the one(s) with whom you have chosen this most treasured gift. Thereby bearing witness that to invite someone into, or to be, your family is to take things back to where it first started. Where love first began. With F.A.M.I.L.Y. “Forget About Me I’ll Love You.” I take that to mean, I will forget about me in the most selfless of ways. Not that it is either a command, or a suggestion, that you forget about me. Forget about me… I’ll love you. Because that is what YOU need. That, in turn, is what WE need.

We need family. There we will find love. Acceptance. Come to KNOW love (truly). [And] be enriched by it. Which takes me back to the beginning of this writing.

Our experiences, ALL of our experiences, are not for us alone. We all share a similar experience… empathetically. IF we concede this truth, then WE have found our way back to the roots of “Forget About Me I’ll Love You”.

Melvin Monroe
DOC #1040513

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